For the fifth year, the Promethean Society has presented the Fair of Mad Science at TeslaCon VI, where builders display all manner of working gadgets and non-working props.
And for the fifth year, I continue to be amazed by the entries. People submit all manner of props: rocket packs, weapons, detectors, time machines, breathing apparatus, scientific kits, gauntlets, communicators, vehicles and more created from a vast array of materials.
The category that gets particular attention is that of the working gadget. These items have to do what you claim they do. Our first year we got a working laser gun.
And it won 2nd place. It lost on aesthetics. The winner that year was the Mobile Jubilation Station, a boom box contained within a frame of rich wooden scrollwork, worn as a backpack and flanked on each side by victrola-like speakers.
This year, first place went to Commodore Jack Speedwell’s wonderful Clank the Steam Man, a robot which pulled a pony cart with rider behind it. You can see it in action here: https://www.facebook.com/ronda.flores/videos/10208038097329883/
Other winners include:
Our first place vehicle was Sir Paul Richards and Lady Scarlett’s personal dirigible, a contraption over 6 feet long and able to fit a full sized adult. Unfortunately, no image was available at time of publication.
One of the things we wish to see more of are children’s entries. (That is, entries made by children. You cannot enter your child. They won’t stay on the table.) This wonderful kit includes a helmet with air filter and communicator, a gas powered jetpack, and an elemental blaster which shoots fire, water, lava, snow, and lasers. It was created by 9-year-old Sharpstar with some help from his mother.
Despite the fact that awards are given, we encourage participants of all levels to enter their creations. We see wonderful items all over the con, but only a fraction of them end up in the fair. Certainly, some people simply don’t want to do it, perhaps because it’s 10am on Sunday, and they’re still recovering from Saturday.
But some may be of the impression that only serious woodworkers and engineers are welcome, and that’s far from the truth. People work with paint, glue, wire, screws, thrifted items, tubing, LEDs, paper, things we can’t identify and more.
Basically, the Fair of Mad Science is for makers (of many types) the way a costume contest is for sewers. There is so much creativity at steampunk conventions, and it’s important to recognize that. These events let people show off their stuff, maybe get some recognition for it, and, perhaps most importantly, encourage other people to try their hand at similar projects. Because steampunk can never have enough creative endeavors.